The 2014 retreat organized by the Knights of St. Mulumba Nigeria, St. Paul’s Sub-Council Owerri took place from August 22-24, 2014 at the Claretian Renewal Center Maryland Nekede. The Knights were received on arrival by the Retreat Director, Rev. Fr. Raphael Nnaemeka Uzoekwe, CMF.
Who is also a lecturer at the Claretian Institute of Philosophy Maryland Nekede. The theme of the retreat was, “Temptation and the Test of Christian Faith in the modern time”.
Introducing the first conference, the retreat moderator, Fr. Uzoekwe highlighted the positive and negative characteristics of modern time and their challenges on the Christian faith. They include amazing discoveries and inventions, telecommunications, manufacture of chemical and biological weapons, insurgency, legalized abortion, gay marriage, homo-sexuality, baby factories and unprecedented speed of Ebola outbreak in some West African countries as well as the speed Europe and America discovered an experimental drug zmapp to combat the dreaded disease. He therefore urged the Knights as soldiers of Christ to defend the Church and their faith in the wake of these global social problems associated with the modern time.
Addressing the knights during the second conference after Holy Mass, the retreat moderator explained the meanings, differences between divine test and temptation and the purposes of each.
According to him, while test comes from God, temptation emanates from Satan. He stated that God sends us test and permits Satan to test us adding that test helps to ascertain our unreserved obedience and submission of divine commands.
Fr. Raphael further expounded on the purpose of both temptation and divine test. While the purpose of temptation is to make us unfaithful to God or prove the genuineness of our faith, divine test enables us to develop the virtue of perseverance. He pointed out that temptation is not in itself sin but can lead to sin, maintaining that God allows temptation most times to give his children an opportunity to practice virtue, acquire self-mastery and identify with the suffering of Christ, his death and the power of resurrection. The moderator however admonished the knights and indeed all Christians to prepare always for temptation and the times of test otherwise called evil days.
On the other hand, the purpose of faith which the clergyman described as a supernatural gift of God that enables us to do supernatural things in a natural setting is to believe in divine revelations without doubting like Thomas did after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. While disclosing that a genuine faith is a tested faith, the moderator stated that hope is the foundation of faith and without faith, it would be absolutely impossible to see God. He challenged the knights to be spiritually sensitive, watchful, prayerful and faithful at all times no matter the situation or circumstance.
The third conference centred on how to scale through divine testing times.
According to the priest who is the author of many religious text books, during the times of test or evil days, you should not tremble or abandon God but rather be sincere, patient, revere, venerate and faithful to God and he will surely reward and bless you at the end, for passing through the test successfully. Other factors Christians need to overcome divine test include standing firmly in the Lord, constant fellowship with the Holy Spirit, prayer, confidence and endurance.
The topic of the third conference generated healthy comments and interaction between the retreat director/moderator and the brother knights on one hand and between brothers and brothers on the other hand.
In an emotion laden vote of thanks, the Grand Knight of the St. Paul’s Sub-Council Owerri, Brother Eva Njemanze expressed profound gratitude to Rev. Fr. Uzoekwe for his thought provoking and educative treatise on temptation and test and wished him well. Brother Njemanze also commended the exemplary conduct of brothers during and after the retreat and prayed for those who could not attend.
The retreat was rounded off on Sunday, August 24, 2014 with a Holy Mass.